Budget passed in nick of time

| 26/06/2014

(CNS): Government has been given the green light to spend almost three quarters of a billion dollars next year after legislators completed the work of Finance Committee and passed the appropriations bill on Wednesday when elected representatives returned to parliament. The bill will now go before the governor and be implemented in the nick of time before Monday’s 30 June deadline. MLAs spent eleven days examining the appropriations before finally voting on the bill which predicts that government will collect over $872 million in revenue. Tax payers were given only small breaks as government's hands remain tied by the UK's surplus requirements to address debt and the depleted reserves.

However, the man in the street can look forward to a small cut in fuel bills in January and import duty cuts on some retail goods.

The reduction of duty on diesel for CUC from 75 to 50 cents a gallon should see power bills come down by around 4%, and if merchants pass on the cuts to consumers the duty reductions for licensed traders of 2% starting in July may offer a tiny piece of relief at the tills, but there are no guarantees that retailers will cut prices.

The only other break is a cut in licence fees for small businesses with 10 or less workers, which will be cut as much as 75% depending on the location of the business. Civil servants are still without their 3.2% cost of living allowance but they will all receive a one off bonus in this month’s pay-packet of 2.5% of their yearly salary.

During Finance Committee no changes were made to any of government's spending plans but Ezzard Miller said he had welcomed the fair and transparent manner in which the finance minister had handled the questioning.

He said through the probing of the appropriations the public has a much better idea of what government is spending and why. Miller pointed out that no one knows what’s in a government annual budget until “it is plonked in front of us”, and as a result it is important that the opposition benches and government members all examine what the money is being used for.

The independent member for North Side said he had some concerns that in some cases ministers did not seem fully briefed about the spending that they are responsible for. “The ministers were not as tuned in as they could be and were deferring to their chief officers when they should have been able to answer questions. If a minister has gone through developing the budget they should know what is going on.”

Pointing to inconsistencies and the failure to justify some spending, he said, “When we see $2 million being spent on security guards opening doors at government buildings, that’s alarming,” Miller stated, as he pointed out that none of these employees are in a position to actually make anything secure.

He also raised concerns about areas where government departments are clearly not talking to each other, as in the case of the planned half-way house rehabilitation centre in West Bay. While government is giving money to the project, the facility has not actually got planning permission.

Incidences when the committee was misled were of particular concern, he added, especially over the airport porn scandal and the issue of the board’s interference in that reinstatement of the employee concerned and the circumstances surrounding the departure of the former CEO.

“We would expect people to put up their hands and admit what happened and what was going on,” he said, but remarked that the culture of rewarding people for “messing up”, as was seen last year at the ICTA, has lead to people believing that they will not be held accountable no matter what they do, Miller warned.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,

    public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be

    tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be

    curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt. People must again learn to work

    instead of living on public assistance." – Cicero , 55 BC

    So, evidently we've learned nothing at all over the past 2,069 years. Oh Sorry 500+ Years

    • Anonymous says:

      How do you figure? Do you understand that this is a balanced budget which allows for an increase in reserves?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Its not just a Cayman challenge and its not just a money issue. For many, its about communities. (Which is why Dartland put in a school, depsite having less people livign there than the Brac. Even if the economies are different.)


  3. AnnaMouse says:

    Hey at some point in the past 10 years this "Island" became a "Country" and costs went up.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good job marco now dump them other ppm ppl they are holding you down!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    WOW! So it takes three quarter billion dollars to run a country the size of a small town. Maybe 60,000 people. SMH……

    • Anonymous says:

      You've answered your own point. We are not a small town but in fact operate like a country. Small towns need not be concerned about having customs and immigration departments nor does it have to concern itself with international relations, for example.  

      It takes $2bn p.a. to run Bermuda which has one quarter the land mass of Cayman and just a few thousand more in the population.

    • Anonymous says:

      You fool.  You still have yet to figure out that a "small town" does not have Customs, Immigration, Monetary Authority, Stock Exchange, Attorney General, Governor, and so on.  Change your tack and some sensible persons may listen to you!  SMH

    • Anonymous says:

      Some universities of less than 10,000 have larger budgets. What's your point?

    • Anonymous says:

      I blame George W. Bush!